Background and Objectives: Given that anxiety runs in families, it is critical to understand the cognitive factors that may be responsible for this intergenerational transmission. The present study offers a first step by exploring the link between mother and father tendencies to view potentially threatening situations as rapidly escalating toward dreaded outcomes (i.e., looming cognitive style) and the emotional disturbances and looming cognitive styles of their adult offspring. Methods: We assessed cognitive vulnerabilities, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in a non-clinical sample (N = 382) of Italian college students and their parents. Results: The looming cognitive style of fathers, but not mothers, was significantly related to greater anxiety in adult offspring. This finding was obtained for both sons and daughters, and remained even after statistically controlling for the anxiety, worry, depressive symptoms, and anxiety sensitivity (AS) of parents). Notably, the association between fathers' looming cognitive style and offspring symptoms was not related to their child's depressive symptoms, and similar to prior work, served as a cognitive marker specific to anxiety. Limitations: The present study relied on a cross-sectional design and did not use clients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Conclusions: The findings suggest that it may prove fruitful to consider parental vulnerabilities such as looming cognitive styles in comprehensive cognitive and interpersonal models of anxiety. The inter generational transmission of emotional difficulties seems to extend beyond anxiety to beliefs about the escalation of threat.

Cognitive vulnerabilities in parents as a potential risk factor for anxiety symptoms in young adult offspring: An exploration of looming cognitive style

SICA, CLAUDIO;BOTTESI, GIOIA;GHISI, MARTA;
2017

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Given that anxiety runs in families, it is critical to understand the cognitive factors that may be responsible for this intergenerational transmission. The present study offers a first step by exploring the link between mother and father tendencies to view potentially threatening situations as rapidly escalating toward dreaded outcomes (i.e., looming cognitive style) and the emotional disturbances and looming cognitive styles of their adult offspring. Methods: We assessed cognitive vulnerabilities, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in a non-clinical sample (N = 382) of Italian college students and their parents. Results: The looming cognitive style of fathers, but not mothers, was significantly related to greater anxiety in adult offspring. This finding was obtained for both sons and daughters, and remained even after statistically controlling for the anxiety, worry, depressive symptoms, and anxiety sensitivity (AS) of parents). Notably, the association between fathers' looming cognitive style and offspring symptoms was not related to their child's depressive symptoms, and similar to prior work, served as a cognitive marker specific to anxiety. Limitations: The present study relied on a cross-sectional design and did not use clients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Conclusions: The findings suggest that it may prove fruitful to consider parental vulnerabilities such as looming cognitive styles in comprehensive cognitive and interpersonal models of anxiety. The inter generational transmission of emotional difficulties seems to extend beyond anxiety to beliefs about the escalation of threat.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3231381
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